HUNDREDS of marchers paraded through York in a massive show of support to kick homophobia out of sport.

The city centre was packed with spectators as the demonstrators – many in fancy dress – unfurled a giant rainbow flag next to York Minster.

More than 30 people were needed to carry the 100m long standard as they marched to York Racecourse on Saturday with drums pounding.

They carried signs with slogans such as When Did You Decide To Be Straight? and Institutionalise Equality – Not Hatred.

Organisers of York Pride estimated the turnout was double or even treble that of last year’s event. The upbeat mood was set by a series of rousing speeches calling for a new stand against homophobia in sport – backed by FA chairman Greg Dyke.

York City FC director Sophie Hicks told the crowds: “It’s thrilling to see so many people. I feel very proud to be involved in this fantastic event. Over the years, football has made significant social progress.

“We even now have women in the boardroom – which is me. However, homophobia is undoubtedly football’s last and most stubborn taboo.”

City of York Council leader James Alexander told the cheering onlookers: “This is a very, very important event for this city. The rainbow flag is flying over the Mansion House. This will happen every year and we are very proud.”

At Knavesmire, there was an afternoon of entertainment, including live music, stalls and sport activities with York City FC and York City Knights York Central MP Hugh Bayley said: “Sport, like marriage, should be open to all, regardless of gender or sexuality.”

Mr Dyke, who is also chancellor of the University of York, said: “It is excellent to see York’s professional football and rugby league teams line up alongside the gay community.”